10 Ways to Find More Time to Hang Out With Your Kids

So you want to find more time to bond with your kids (don’t we all?). Here are the time-savings tricks to help you do just that.

by Adam Bulger
Originally Published: 

The following was produced in partnership with Walmart Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Parenthood, the toughest job you’ll ever love, is a constant time crunch. It’s worst in the after-school hours when you have to shuffle kids from school to soccer practice before helping with homework. All along, you have to make sure they’re clean, fed, clothed and have the right equipment, permission slips, and doctors’ notes. With those balls in the air, you also have to juggle household chores, automobile maintenance, and grocery shopping. Then, suddenly, your day is over and your chance for quality time with your kids is gone.

The good news? You can carve out time in the busy hours after school if you plan ahead and take advantage of the right tools. Here’s how to find that time when you’re on the road or at home.

On The Road

Outsource Your Shopping

You love your home but feel like chores always keep you away. When the cupboard is bare but your schedule’s too full to shop, Walmart will do the grocery shopping for you. With Walmart Grocery Pickup & Delivery, you never have to set foot in a store. You can schedule a pickup time and have Walmart associates load the order into your car for you, at no extra charge. In select locations, Walmart will even delivery the groceries, right to your door. Think of it as a rollback savings of your time.

Put the Store on Your Time

With Walmart’s Grocery Pickup, you can check in with the store to let them know you’re coming. It’s like having a NASCAR pit crew working to get you and your groceries home with lightning speed. When your pickup window of time arrives, Walmart associates get your order ready and send an app notification when they’re done. Then you tell them it’s go time by checking in on the app. They can track your car through GPS and estimate your arrival time. Minutes after you arrive at the Grocery Pickup parking spots, a Walmart associate packs your groceries in your trunk and give you the OK to get back on the road.

Pack Snacks for Yourself

Want to be a terrible parent? Do it hungry. Your patience will be ground down to nothing along with your ability to concentrate. When you’re out and about, there’s always convenience store food and drive-thru fare. Delicious though they may be, those options have about a week’s worth of sodium and saturated fats in every bite. Do your arteries a favor and include healthy snacks for yourself in your Walmart Grocery Pickup order. You’ll be well-fed and back to your super-chill dad vibe in no time.

Approach Sugar and Caffeine With Caution

When you’re overwhelmed and hungry, powering through the afternoon with coffee or an energy drink seems like a great idea. Add a candy bar and you’ll have enough quick energy to take on the world. Unfortunately, the crash will come faster than you expect and when bedtimes comes, you’re too wired to sleep.

Many sleep experts recommend cutting off caffeine by 2 p.m. — any later and the lingering effects of the stimulant interferes with your sleep. Whole foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits, can offer longer-lasting energy, so stay stocked up on carrot sticks and apples to help you get through the day. Add them to your Walmart Grocery Pickup & Delivery order and keep them in the car and at the ready.

The Art of Small Talk

If you’re running out of the school with an 8-year-old under one arm and a bag of sports equipment under the other, you don’t have time to chat.

You can avoid getting mired in time-sucking talk by explaining the urgency of your situation calmly but firmly. “Sorry, Julie, gotta go. I scheduled a Walmart Pickup for 4.” See how easy that is?

Don’t Give Yourself Too Much Time

Ever notice how quickly you act on a tight deadline? You’re not alone. The old adage of Parkinson’s law holds that work expands to fit whatever amount of time it’s given. Give yourself five minutes to do something, you’ll get it done in five minutes. Still, the same task could take 20 minutes if it has the opportunity.

With the right approach, Parkinson’s law can work for you. When you’re facing a time crunch, you’re apt to focus in on the task more than you would if you approached it leisurely. Say you scheduled a grocery pickup with the Walmart Grocery app at 4:30 p.m. When Walmart notifies you that the order’s ready, see how quickly you can replace your car’s window washer fluid, write a text to the babysitter, and make a to-do list for tomorrow before your pickup.

Make Your Hygiene Routine More Efficient

Don’t be shy about skipping your face washing ritual or routine cologne application in the service of being on time for your kids’ stuff. You’re picking up your daughter from ice skating, not heading out to the club. Of course, you shouldn’t get so rank that the kids need to roll down the windows on the way home. Be sure to shower, brush your teeth, and apply deodorant. But don’t feel pressure to get beyond the basics — your kids won’t judge. If you’re worried about things get too funky, add deodorant to your next Walmart Grocery Pickup & Delivery order and leave it in the car for sweaty emergencies.

At Home

Live By the List

You never want to swear in front of your kids. But after rushing to make it home from the store in time for dinner and realizing you forgot to buy milk, it’s difficult to hold back. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Our brains aren’t good at storing long lists — working memories can only handle about seven things at a time. So write it down. Lists reduces stress because they liberate you from having to store all that information in your head.

Your list can take any form that makes sense for you. The classic spiral-bound notebook and a pen works, but so do notes on your smartphone. Apps are there to help too. Spend five minutes marking items as favorites in the Walmart Grocery app, for example, and the next time you’re shopping, simply call up your favorites and, boom, your shopping list instantly materializes.

Have a T0-Go Bag Ready, Always

Having a backpack or small duffel bag stocked with supplies makes getting out the door a much faster process. Family have different needs, but in general, kids need snacks and spare clothes. Kids always want ice cream and food from cash-only trucks and concession stands, so cash is good. And since kids are filthy by nature, baby wipes are clutch for all ages.

Whatever you pack, do it ahead of time, then position the bag with care. The world’s best packed bag is worthless when you leave the house without it. Keep it by the door near your car keys, in a place you can’t help but see.

Have an Exit Routine

Before parents leave their house, they rush through a chaotic, task-oriented path, grabbing socks from the kid’s room, dashing to the garage for water, scrambling to the basement for dance costumes, and sprinting back upstairs for the dance class tuition check on the nightstand. Their paths through the house look like spaghetti: jumbles of wiggly lines curving back on themselves.

When you move through your house, think like a master electrician wiring a circuit. Create a route that runs through your home in a symmetrical, continuous line and consistently follow that route when you go through your house. Your goal is to be in as few rooms as possible and to never visit the same room twice.

Clear Away Clutter

You’ll never be able to execute on that exit routing if your house is strewn with toys, clothes and other child-related ephemera. Kids make life messy and that’s a reality parents just have to accept. But if you can’t contain clutter, it’s going to contain you.

Getting rid of the stuff junking up your life is easier than you think. It should take no more than 15 minutes a day to stash unwanted items into trash bags designated for either the garbage can or charitable donations and you’ll see a difference after a week. Once the clutter’s cleared, find stash spots for essentials like car keys, wallets, and that to-go bag. Pro tip: Keep them near the door, somewhere easy to spot from a quick glance across the room.

*Offer valid for first order only for Walmart Grocery Pickup, in available markets. Minimum order of $50. Offer not transferable, and void where prohibited by law. Does not apply to alcohol purchases. Customer responsible for all applicable taxes. Offer expires 01/31/19.

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